Haken - 'Affinity' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 27, 2016    
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The Progressive future could very well be Haken.

Jon Landau famously once said, "I saw a Rock and Roll future, and its name was Bruce Springsteen". A vision which turned out quite prophetic, and one which springs to mind when, for many, Haken similarly carry the hopes for a Progressive Rock future.

A band who did what they'd been threatening with the release of 2013's 'The Mountain', now viewed as a landmark album in both Prog Rock and in their career path, the critical success providing the platform from which to build. Yet Haken aren't a band to repeat themselves; something which must be hard to resist when you hit a winning formula, but the MO seems to have shifted for 'Affinity'.

For starters, singer Ross Jennings has described the writing process as "the most collaborative we've ever been on an album". Developing the idea lyrically of "how we are connected" as a bit of a loose theme, and taking inspiration from the eighties work of Yes and King Crimson, 'Affinity' is a vision which producer Jems Bogren has helped the band to realise. None more so than in the fanfare of the aptly titled '1985', which unashamedly tributes that period – very Crimson-like cascades of guitar notes, and outbreaks of synth in an arrangement which echoes classic Dream Theater. Technical and complex, it's the antithesis of something like 'Lapse' and 'Earthrise', which show the band in a more relaxed and accessible place.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The album opens with a slow-build into the lead track/single 'Initiate' – what the band have called "a combination of the atmospheric and contemporary elements of our sounds". All dynamic shifts of tempo and energy; it's Haken in a nutshell – a scene setter which possibly even understates what's to come, which includes fifteen minutes of 'The Architect', where Haken get to construct something mouth-wateringly epic as well as feature Leprous singer Einar Solberg. The nutshell is expanded and strewn far and wide; at times brutal and pummelling, but never less than absorbing and intense.

Whether it's the more concise or the adventurous, perversely for Prog fans, it may be that somehow the less complex numbers are competing with the traditional lengthy numbers. At the risk of polishing the rose-tinted glasses and verging on the nauseatingly flattering, it's safe to say that the (to quote 'Earthrise') "two steps back, one leap forward" approach guarantees that the Progressive future is bright, and the Progressive future could very well be Haken.

Mike Ainscoe

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